Inspired By / Our Story
by SARAH MATHEWS
Reading Time: 10mins
learn how a surprise delivery and a postcard that travelled 10,000km across the Indian ocean, led me to discover a lifelong dream that had otherwise been hiding from me.
plot twist: that discovery wasn't just mine, it happened to be shared with Janie (the lucky recipient of the aforementioned snail mail) and without that, neither of us (or this website) would be here.
The story behind Enliven is a personal one. After all, it was guided by our journey to reimagine our own lives when we could finally admit to ourselves that something was missing.
the catalyst / October 2015
I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I was travelling home on a local flight when I stopped to buy the latest Porter magazine in the airport departure lounge. It wasn't two hours later when my plane touched down in Cape Town that I was already making a beeline for the bookstore in the arrivals terminal to buy another copy. There was something about it that spoke to me so directly that I wanted to share it with the only other person I knew would understand... and that person was Janie.
Janie had been my therapist on-and-off for a few years. I first came across her in 2011 when I was new to Cape Town and suffering what felt like The World's Worst Anxiety in my new job at an ad agency. Already, that was weird because work was usually my jam: all hours, all in, all over it to meet my own demands and high standards but here, I was quite literally short-circuiting and I just couldn't risk feeling like this. It was my first proper experience with therapy and I instantly recognised that there was something unique and special about our sessions: the ease, the resolutions, the creative sharing and the inspiration! Janie not only had me out of therapy in no time but that single experience had me referring all my friends to her too because why wouldn't you want to invest time and money in yourself to help you handle life's inescapable (and often steep) learning curves?
In 2015, I encountered my steepest learning curve yet when I lost my mom to a debilitating and devastating illness. Those last few months were an eternity and a split second; fragments of time that forever changed me in some way. I felt vacant. For the first time in my life, I was absolutely certain that I couldn't show up as the version of Sarah people knew and expected. Even though I was surrounded by incredible support, I remember having coffee with the MD and CEO of that same ad agency (4 years on), saying: 'I just need to be barefoot on a beach in Bali for a little while'. To this day I don't know why I said that. I'd never been to the East and the opportunity to travel to Thailand hadn't even materialised yet. Something bigger was at play and I just trusted that whatever happened, I would be ok. A few weeks later I was packing for New York and Thailand, grateful for the opportunity to go and work there for a few months to take my mind off things. While I may have looked calm, I felt like my midlife crisis was in full swing and when I told Janie that I was leaving, well... I can still see her sitting on the edge of her seat literally beaming back at me.
"when sarah told me she was leaving, i couldn't contain my smile or excitement! i knew then and there the active role she was playing in recreating her life and that she would be forever changed by this. her bravery to face the unknown is what very often ignites our creative energy because when we are faced with a blank canvas, we have no choice but to be creative" - janie
so, what was so special about that magazine and postcard?
One of the pages that Sarah had marked with a Post-It note for Janie to read:
"there is a woman. While she appears to move through life effortlessly, there is a proud determination behind every decision she makes. a pioneer and an inspiration to others, she stands up for what she believes in, finding power in partnership and, in return, always lending a shoulder to lean on. a beautiful rebel, unexpectedly playful and angelic, masking the inner strength that drives her, confident that all is possible."
"I was sitting in my car stealing 10 minutes between manic back-to-back appointments when I finally managed to get around to looking at the magazine Sarah had dropped off for me. I opened it to the pages she had marked and by the time I had finished reading it, I thought: 'WOW. This is what I want to feel. This is what I want to help other people feel. This is what I want to give back to the world' - Janie
It had the same effect on me. So much so, I would seek out that feature in every issue after that. When I read it on that flight it made me think of Janie and the incredible impact she had had on me - not just in helping me through this difficult time but more importantly, in helping me realise my dreams and the confidence to let go of everything that was holding me back. I dropped off her surprise copy with a thank you note stuck to that page and left for overseas later that day. Little did I know how that would go on to inspire her, us working together and some of the work we do with Enliven today.
how our DESIRES CONNECTED
While I had always felt an overwhelming desire to break the status quo and be and do more than this default marketing degree trajectory I found myself on, it was becoming apparent to me that more than anything, I loved helping people. People had always come to me for advice - about work, relationships, styling and travel - and I now needed to draw on all of my talents (no matter how far-fetched I thought they were) to explore projects that inspired me; that had meaningful impact and allowed me to work with talented people that I couldn't stop raving about. Little did I know, Janie, had been searching for that too ... she had built a beautiful life and thriving practice but for her, something was still missing.
A tiny postcard made it's way from Thailand to Cape Town, where I mentioned to her that I'd found self-guided courses online run by beautiful smoothie flogging Aussie health coaches. Her reply to that was: "it's so great that you're doing the work to get clarity; the websites are beautiful but I feel like they're missing something fierce, the change agent and tools to help cement your goals and desires into your subconscious and unconscious..." That's when she told me about Enliven, a company she had registered 4 years ago with the intention of helping people take better care of their well-being but the ideas had never really surfaced so she didn't want to waste any resources on it.
Now, things were different ... we could clearly see that there was a gap in the market and we felt compelled to combine our unique expertise and talents to not only create a beautiful space for people to feel anchored with solid professional advice but also give them the tools, guided and self-guided coaching products that could identify what they want; ignite their creative energy; inspect their emotions; inject confidence to overcome their fears; practice new skills intentionally and inspire more ideas. And while we're all about fierce and effective actions, we're also about leaning into the light; offering the ongoing inspiration and insights to keep fuelling your desires.
A UNIVERSAL HUMAN TRUTH
Creating your life is an ongoing process and we all have the desire to be, do or have something. But trust us, this process is FULL of surprises (the good, the bad and the ugly) and that's why it's important to have the structure of a programme and the support of a community to help keep you on track and make the work feel downhill. It's when our desires become a struggle that we stop believing in their remote possibilities and we give up on them. It's easier to get sucked into our fears and what we tell ourselves we can't have (self-limiting beliefs around money, diets and even material things). Other people can weigh in on our situations and while they mean well, they unknowingly reinforce any lurking anxiety which creates more stress, possible panic attacks and can leave you feeling depressed. An unfulfilled desire can feel painful so be aware, because that's when the excuses come knocking.
BREAKING UP WITH EXCUSES
When we built Enliven over the course of 4 months...
- Janie: was a new mom, facing pervasive fatigue and the mental chaos that comes with that.
- SteHan: was a new dad with a full time job that left him little time and energy.
- Sarah: had just moved back to SA and made the call to only take on tiny projects so that she could focus on developing Enliven's brand, products and website. In a nutshell, she relocated from a fishing village into FEAR, a neighbourhood preoccupied with discussing the risk factors all day long. It's hard to say, she might have preferred a wide awake infant? :)
The lesson in this is very much what Aristotle outlines in a favourite quote: "first have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective" ... which we did. Despite our own personal challenges we set out to create this brand, company, website and products with a very clear goal in mind. "Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom money, materials and methods" which again, we did. Combining our diverse and specialist skills we brought Janie's decade long experience as a clinical psychologist to this platform and products to essentially bring you therapy on steriods! She brings the professional advice but also, the vision and clear methodology that is integral to our approach and learning new habits. Sarah's 12+ years in advertising and publishing enabled her to articulate, design and package Janie's vision and bring the brand and product to life at every touch point. SteHan's experience as a graphic and industrial designer meant that our customer's user journey was central to every decision to ensure our interface was just as shiny and fun as we believe the ENLIVEN GUIDED SERIES creative process should be. Aristotle ends by saying: "third, adjust all of your means to that end" which is exactly what we did! We dedicated our time, our weekends, our effort and all our resources towards our one goal and supported this with the genuine belief that we were building something bigger than ourselves and it evolved into something beyond our wildest dream. The best part about this sense of community and belonging is that your other team members are able to see it clearly when your rose-tinted glasses have momentarily fogged up. It happens and vice versa.
WHY WOULD ENLIVEN MATTER TO YOU?
Enliven.co.za is essentially your new home base. A go-to source for simple solutions today that have the potential to change the way you live, think, work and look after yourself forever and it just so happens to be under the guidance of an experienced clinical psychologist. It’s the essential action plan that lets you ditch the burden of everyday fears and excuses and empowers you to live the life you always wanted and it's always here for you to come back to, to discover and rediscover our articles in your own time, as and when you need it.